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MOSCOW, July 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's antimonopoly agency has found state oil producer Rosneft to have broken antitrust laws in forcing up petrochemical prices, an agency spokesman said on Thursday.
The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) said in a statement that during the first half of 2009, Russia's largest oil company abused its dominant market position by raising wholesale prices for petrochemicals to an unjustified level, including through means of withholding goods from circulation, and creating discriminatory conditions for the sale of oil products for certain counterparties.
The charges relate to sales of gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and fuel oil. The company could face a fine of between 1% and 15% of revenue from the period in which it was in breach of antimonopoly laws.
A Rosneft spokesman said the company will appeal the ruling.
"We are operating within the bounds of Russian law; we will study the FAS materials, when we receive them, and will appeal this decision," Nikolai Manvelov told RIA Novosti.
The antitrust service has so far found three Russian oil companies to be in breach of antitrust legislation - Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, and TNK BP. Consideration of LUKoil's case has been postponed until August 28.
In February, the service accused the four companies of unjustifiably raising wholesale prices for petroleum products in late 2008-early 2009, and imposed fines on them ranging from 1.1 billion rubles ($35 million) to 1.5 billion rubles ($48 million).
All four companies have contested the decisions.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.